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60 seconds with...Dr Iliana Christodoulou-Varotsi


Dr. Iliana Christodoulou-Varotsi
Maîtrise, DEA, Doctorate

Legal Consultant & Lloyd's Maritime Academy Course Leader

Iliana is a highly regarded legal consultant and industry trainer. She is involved with the delivery and/or authorship of 5 Lloyd’s Maritime Academy courses, including the Sulphur 2020 and the Marine Pollution Prevention & Management Certificate courses and the Diploma in Maritime Safety Policies & Regulations. She is an experienced law drafter, was included in the Woman of Influence 2019 List of the Maritime Economies magazine and
is the author of 5 books with international publishers.
In her approach to the shipping agenda, she adopts a cross-professional stance, integrating industry best practice and placing the focus on the human element.

Did you know?

Understanding the context, rationale, and operation of air pollution from shipping is important for conducting a successful business. Relevant constraints, as well as the interaction with enforcement authorities and the professionals in charge of environmental standards make this task both urgent and necessary. A maritime professional may be at ease with its own specialised tasks, however understanding the overall framework and positioning recent developments within the current wider context, is a different challenge in which maritime professionals need to invest.

In this short interview, Dr Iliana Christodoulou-Varotsi discusses how knowledge of the framework governing air pollution from shipping can support the exposure of maritime
professionals to their business environment and why keeping up-to-date with new regulations and standards is essential for individuals and organisations.

Broadly speaking, how would you say air pollution from shipping has changed over the past couple of years, and what has been the impact of these changes?

There have been numerous changes in this area that represent societal trends and stem from strategies or policies of institutional stakeholders who shape the governance of marine pollution. The salient source of the developments in the area of air pollution from shipping and global sulphur cap 2020 is the International Maritime Organisation. Recently, the organisation has adopted numerous technical resolutions. National legislators are also entrusted with legislative work and, more importantly with enforcement powers. During the last two years we have seen important changes affecting air pollution from shipping such as the Sulphur 2020 requirement (effective on 1 January 2020), data collection for fuel oil consumption, regional (EU) emissions monitoring and changes in reporting and verification.

A greater focus has also been placed on the discussion between viability and compliance options, with the introduction of possible alternative methods: exhaust gas cleaning systems commonly referred to as scrubbers, the use of LNG or methanol, etc.

The logistics of certain practices have also been increasingly scrutinised, pointing to challenges concerning the management of the new landscape (e.g. fuel changeover process, challenges relating to hybrid fuels, etc.). There are more changes ahead with the international agenda discussing trading schemes in relation to air pollution from shipping.

Given these changes, have you seen a shift towards a more demanding environment from the standpoint of maritime professionals working in this area?

Shipping business environment has always been highly demanding. Constraints have numerous sources – they stem from regulations, including in relation to the environment, the need to protect health or ensure safety. Nowadays, shipping business environment has become even more challenging, which is often reflected in legal constraints. There is pressure on the international economy, pressure on
freight rates and premiums, demands on sustainability, etc. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it is nowadays a real challenge to conciliate viability or profitability with enhanced standards working in favour of humans and the environment. This is of course reflected in the role of maritime professionals. Maritime professionals, especially those on-board ships, are often faced with noteworthy or even excessive exposure to legal liabilities. From this point of view, knowledge of the framework governing air pollution from shipping can support the exposure of maritime professionals to their business environment.

Looking towards the future, how do you think the frameworks governing air pollution from shipping will have transformed in the next 5 years?

I believe that in 5 years we will have a clearer picture of the decarbonisation of shipping. This may entail:

  • the creation of new Emission Control Areas,
  • the introduction of additional standards, or
  • the enhancement of monitoring or enforcement policies.

In 5 years, we will have a better understanding of the use of low sulphur fuel by ships, including in relation to its availability, management, inter-phase with alternative methods, and impact on the environment. Considering the anticipated findings, we may have to revisit our understanding of the problem of the reduction of air pollution from shipping and the approach to be adopted by regulators and stakeholders.

We are likely to see a wider use of LNG as an alternative source of energy, and a more comprehensive international network supporting its use. Alike aviation and other sectors, trading schemes of air emissions are also likely to grasp shipping, starting perhaps with regional regimes. In any case, the advent of new technologies and the benefit of a better understanding of findings and tools available to the industry will continue to shape the future of marine pollution control agenda including in relation to air pollution from shipping.

Why is the Certificate in Sulphur 2020 relevant right now?

Students will have the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the overview of strategies, policies, regulations and best practice under development surrounding air pollution from shipping. They will gain knowledge about the problem of air pollution from shipping, current challenges and the best practice under development in the industry. It is worth mentioning that students will join one of the biggest communities of learners and peers in the shipping industry.

  • If you are a new entrant or a maritime professional in transition you need this course to grasp in a user-friendly manner through self-contained learning modules the overview of air pollution from shipping with the focus on the Sulphur 2020 requirement, its rationale and operation in practice.
  • If you are a well-established maritime professional, you may need this course to refresh your knowledge or gain updates because you simply don’t have the time to do so on your own. Maritime professionals involved with operations who seek to grasp the frameworks surrounding their work as well as maritime administrators will benefit from this certificate.
  • Professionals with backgrounds other than shipping may find the course useful because it will give them the foundations that they probably lack to understand Sulphur 2020 demands.
  • Legal professionals will better understand the operational context of air pollution from shipping and Sulphur 2020 requirement and integrate current trends in their legal thinking.

If you could give someone starting out in this industry one piece of advice, what would that be?

“Love your job, always be prepared, never forget that you are there to provide a service.”

What are the main skills maritime professionals need to understand air pollution from shipping?

A maritime or environmental background clearly supports the understanding of marine pollution prevention and management. A critical and analytical thinking will make exposure even more beneficial.

What is your top tip for a successful maritime professional faced with challenges around air pollution from shipping?

Always be respectful of the environment. Think beyond your own immediate interest. Raise awareness. Make well-informed decisions.

Inspired by this article? 

If you’re interested in developing your career further in the areas of safety and environment,
join Dr Iliana for the Certificate in Sulphur 2020, the Certificate in Marine Pollution Prevention & Management or the Diploma in Maritime Safety Policies & Regulations.